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CSU-ERFA News & Views

Advertise with CSU-ERFAPlease note that the summaries of news items posted on this page do not necessarily represent the official positions of CSU-ERFA or its affiliates.  Links contained within the summaries may take you to the original news sources.  CSU-ERFA is not responsible for the content of linked articles and cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of those articles.



August 2018

Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.  ~Herbert Asquith

The Sacramento Bee reported today (August 15, 2018) that approximately 14,000 CalPERS members, including some retirees, will need to choose new health plans for 2019.

According to the article, the Health Net plan will no longer be available in Sacramento, Yolo, Placer and El Dorado counties beginning on January 1, 2019. Those affected must choose another health plan during open enrollment, from Sept. 10 to Oct. 5, or they will default to UnitedHealthcare.

Likewise Blue Shield will no longer serve CalPERS in eight Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma. CalPERS members with Blue Shield plans in these counties must choose a new health care plan during the open enrollment period or be defaulted to Health Net SmartCare.




July 2018

Don't play too much golf.  Two rounds a day are plenty.  ~Harry Vardon



Voting now is underway by mail-in ballot on a number of changes to our Constitution. Among these are a change in membership eligibility to make all retired CSU employees eligible for membership, a change in the name of our organization to reflect that change should the membership eligibility expansion pass, and deletion of a number of items that will be shifted to the By-laws. Please read the proposed changes carefully.

To be counted your mail-in ballot must reach the CSU-ERFA office by August 15, 2018.

If you have not received your ballot by August 3, 2018, please call the CSU ERFA office (818-677-6522).


According to an article published today (7/12/18) on Bloomberg.com CalPERS is reporting a preliminary investment return of 8.6% for the fiscal year 2017-18, which ended on June 30, 2018. This exceeds its 7% annual investment return target, and raises its funded level to 71%.

(This means that if the fund were to be liquidated today, it would have sufficient funds to cover 71% of all its present and future pension obligations.)

More information is available at: https://www.bloomberg.com/…/calpers-reports-8-6-gain-on-inv…


CSU-ERFA has announced its 2018 Small Grants Awards Program. Applications should be sent electronically to the CSU-ERFA office at csuerfa@csun.edu no later than October 31, 2018. Awards will be announced in December 2018.

Grant applications and guidelines can be downloaded from the CSU-ERFA website, by calling the office at (818) 677-6522, or by emailing your request to csuerfa@csun.edu. If you have questions about the grant proposal application, contact Marshelle Thobaben, Chair, CSU-ERFA Foundation Grants Committee, at mt1@humboldt.edu.


Donations to the CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation received by December 30, 2018 will be matched dollar for dollar.

The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation recently received another $500 challenge grant from a CSU-ERFA member.  The donor will match all individual donations received by the foundation through December 30, 2018 up to a total of $500.

The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that provides competitive grants to CSU-ERFA members to support their research and scholarly activities.  Donations in any amount from both CSU-ERFA members and the general public are welcomed.  Donations to the foundation generally are deductible from state and federal income taxes.

You may donate by sending a check to the CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation at 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8339.

CSU-ERFA members also have the option of setting up a regular monthly donation to the foundation from their CalPERS pension warrant. 

In either case, please download and fill out our donation agreement form.



May 2018

Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.  ~Herbert Asquith

A recent article by Michae Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times raises troubling concerns about CalPERS management practices. According to the article "Charles Asubonten, whose background and experience came into question months after he was hired as the chief financial officer of CalPERS, is no longer with the giant pension fund, the organization acknowledged Monday [May 14, 2018, ed.]."




April 2018

Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.  ~Herbert Asquith



In the near future CSU-ERFA members will be asked to vote on a number of changes to our Constitution. Among these are a change in name to reflect the recent action adding staff to our potential membership; and deletion of a number of items that will be shifted to the By-laws. Please read the proposed changes carefully.

The vote will take place by regular mail so please ensure that the CSU ERFA office (818-677-6522) has your current mailing address.

The dates of the vote will be posted on our website csuerfa.org as soon as the Executive Committee has determined them.


In response to our earlier vote to expand membership eligibility, the CSU-ERFA State Council voted at its April 7th meeting in Oakland to recommend changing the name of our organization to

The California State University
Emeritus and Retired Faculty and Staff Association

The new acronym would be CSU-ERFSA. This is consistent with earlier State Council action recommending that membership be open to all retired employees (faculty, staff, and administrative) of the California State University System who are receiving a CalPERS pension based on their CSU employment.

The transition from CSU-ERFA to CSU-ERFSA is expected to take place over a period of time. Both State Council recommendations require changes to our Constitution, and the new name of the Association will need to be registered with appropriate state and federal authorities. A mail vote of the membership will be taken in the coming months on these and other changes to our Constitution and By-laws to bring them up-to-date.




March 2018

Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.  ~Herbert Asquith

If you had money invested in the CSU Tax-Sheltered Annuity Program prior to April 2016, you may be affected by changes that are coming to this program. The following statement is from the Chancellor's Office website:

CSU TSA 403(b) Legacy Fund Balance Mapping

In an effort to reduce participant costs and improve the design and operation of the California State University Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA) program, CSU will be implementing a transfer of asset balances currently held by the TSA legacy recordkeepers (Fidelity, MetLife, TIAA, VALIC, and Voya) to the active TSA Program administered by Fidelity. Balances held in legacy annuity contracts will not be affected by this transition. This is scheduled to take place at the end of May 2018.

What does this mean? First, if you have money invested in an annuity contract with any of the five legacy programs listed, those contracts will not change and will remain with the legacy programs. (An annuity is an agreement that pays you a monthly benefit for the remainder of your life.)

Second, if you have money invested in mutual fund investments at any of the five legacy programs, that money will be transferred to the new program, which is being operated by Fidelity. Note that the investments themselves will be liquidated and the cash balance will be transferred to the new program. The transfer will take place at the end of May 2018.

Beginning in mid-April 2018 you will be given the opportunity to invest your transferred balance in one or more of the funds available under the new program. (There are several choices available, so you may want to consult with an investment adviser to find the choice or choices that best fit your financial goals.) If you do not make a choice, your money will be invested in a Vanguard Target Date fund.

Third, if you have reached the age where you are required to withdraw a minimum distribution from your TSA each year, that information will be transferred to the new program, and your RMD will continue to be made each year.

Finally, for more information please refer to the CSU TSA Transition Fact Sheet.





February 2018

Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.  ~Herbert Asquith

The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation recently received an eighth $500 challenge grant from a CSU-ERFA member.  The donor will match all donations from individuals received by the foundation by June 30, 2018 up to a total of $500. (We are pleased to report that several members made contributions between July 1 and December 31, 2017, and our previous challenge grant was fully matched.)

The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that provides competitive grants to CSU-ERFA members to support their research and scholarly activities. (Recently the foundation was awarded a Gold Seal by GuideStar for its level of financial transparency and operational efficiency.)  Donations in any amount from both CSU-ERFA members and the general public are welcomed.  Donations to the foundation generally are deductible from state and federal income taxes, and all donations will be acknowledged in writing.

You may donate to the foundation by sending a check made out to the CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation to CSU-ERFA, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8339.  Members also can choose to donate to the foundation monthly through a deduction from their CalPERS pension warrant. In addition, credit and debit card donations can be made through the foundation’s GuideStar page.

If you wish to contribute through a deduction from your CalPERS pension warrant, please download our donation agreement form, fill it out and return it to the foundation at the above address: http://csuerfa.org/pdf/Donation-Agreement.pdf

If you wish to make a donation via credit or debit card visit our GuideStar page at https://www.guidestar.org/profile/30-0109115 and click on the “Donate Now” button.


The results of the recent mail and email vote on the constitutional amendment to make all retirees from the California State University system who are are receiving pension payments from CalPERS eligible for CSU-ERFA membership have been tallied, and the measure has received enough votes to pass.

As a result all retirees from the the CSU system who receive a CalPERS pension are now eligible to join CSU-ERFA, and are invited to join. It is expected that the name of the Association will be changed in the near future to reflect the Association's broader constituency.

In addition, the statement of purpose in the Association's constitution will be updated to better reflect the interests of all members.



January 2018

Retire from work, but not from life.  ~M.K. Soni

The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation, which provides the financial support for the CSU-ERFA Small Grants Program has been awarded the Gold Seal for Transparency for 2017 by GuideStar.


This award is granted to only the top 1% of non-profit organizations, and is based not on size but on financial transparency and operating efficiency.


The CSU-ERFA Grant Awards Committee has announced the recipients of the 2017-18 grant cycle awards. This cycle six grants were awarded using a total of $6,000 in funds provided by the CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation. A brief description of each funded project follows:

James Forsher, CSU East Bay: Research Project: Development of the Center for the Study of Media and Intolerance

Professor Forsher will be working with faculty at the University of Vienna to create the infrastructure for the Center for the Study of Media and Intolerance, which will serve as a resource for students and academics in Europe to explore how films and television have dealt with issues of racism, sexism and religious intolerance over the past century. His film archive dates from early 1970’s to the late 1990’s. His future plans include setting up a satellite center in the U.S. at a CSU campus that would benefit from the Center.


Anna Hamre, CSU Fresno: Creative Project: Coro Solare Concert, April 22, 2018

Professor Hamre, the Artistic Director of the Fresno Community Chorus, Inc., a nonprofit organization, is organizing a concert that would include early music edited by Dr. Arthur Huff, a former Director of Choral activities at CSU Fresno. A few editions of the music of the Spanish composer Alonso de Tejeda are well known, but his editions of less well-known works by Franco-Flemish Flemish composer and Giaches de Wert and others are important to preserve. Professor Hamre's grant will to help pay for professional instrumentalists and a rehearsal accompanist for the concert.


Susana Hernández Araico, CSU Pomona: Research Project: Sor Juana and the Indigenous Roots of her Musicality

Professor Hernández Araico will survey Spanish chronicles describing musical performances by various native tribes in central Mexico prior to and during the lifetime of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, one of the most accomplished and important writers of the second half of the seventeenth century.  Susana has been invited to present her research findings at the International Conference of Americanist Scholars to be held at the University of Salamanca in Spain in July 2018. Additionally, her presentation will be developed into a publication.


Laurence Houlgate, CSU, Cal Poly: Creative Project:  How to Publish & Market Your Own College Textbook: An Educator’s Guide to Self-Publishing & Self-Marketing 

Professor Houlgate plans to publish an e-book on “how to self-publish and market a textbook.” It is based on what he learned when he published a textbook in 2016 that was also supported by a CSU-ERFA grant.  His new book will give educators a valuable head start by providing them with a step-by-step guide to publishing and marketing their own textbook. He hopes to publish it early in 2018.  Please write to Professor Houlgate for further information at  <lhoulgat@calpoly.edu>.


Lynne Osman Elkin, CSU East Bay: Research Project: Essential Contribution of Rosalind Franklin to the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

Professor Elkin, an authority on Rosalind Franklin, is completing a book on the factual account of the history of the DNA discovery, including the proper role Rosalind Franklin had in the discovery. Lynne’s book will also be correcting misinformation in James Watson’s memoir, the Double Helix. She has interviewed numerous experts, including DNA Nobel Prize Winners: Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins. She hopes her book will inspire women scientists. Her request is for computer assistance to complete her book due to macular degeneration disease. 

Catherine Turrill-Lupi, CSU
 Sacramento: Research Project: A Savonarolan Legacy: Three Case Studies of Art Produced for the Florentine Convent of Santa Caterina da Siena in the 1500s

Professor Turrill-Lupi’s research (A Savonarolan Legacy: Three Case Studies of Art Produced for the Florentine Convent of Santa Caterina da Siena in the 1500s) results will be published in an anthology of interdisciplinary essays addressing the various types of networks formed within and beyond Italian convents during the Early Modern period (projected publication 2019).


The CSU-ERFA Grant Awards Committee is chaired by Professor Marshelle Thobaben (Humboldt), and includes Professors Sally Hurtado de Lopez (Sonoma), Judith Hunt (Sonoma), and Beatrice Pressley (East Bay).


Beginning on January 1, 2018 CalPERS retirees enrolled in traditional Medicare (Parts A & B) and a CalPERS Supplement to Medicare Plan - PERSCare, PERSChoice, and PERSSelect - became eligible for the SilverSneakers program, which provides gym memberships at health clubs and community centers that are part of the SilverSneakers program at no cost.

If you already have a health club or community center gym membership, ask if they are in the SilverSneakers program. If they are, they can check your eligibility and sign you up on the spot.

Retirees who are in HMO Medicare Advantage plans may be eligible for SilverSneakers depending on the plan. You can check your eligibility at silversneakers.com.

Update: The Kaiser-Permanente Medicare Advantage Plan in California offers a similar program, Silver & Fit, that also provides no cost gym memberships at health clubs and community centers. You can find out more information about this program at silverandfit.com.





December 2017

Retire from work, but not from life.  ~M.K. Soni

CalPERS has released its Comprehensive Annual Fiscal Report for the 2016-17 fiscal year. This report provides details about the Public Employees Retirement Fund (the fund that provides retirement benefits for retirees from the CSU and other state agencies).

According to the press release that accompanied the release:

Significant data in the CAFR for fiscal year (FY) ending June 30, 2017:
  • Investment assets stood at $326.4 billion for the Public Employees' Retirement Fund (PERF). This is an increase of more than $24 billion in assets when compared with the previous fiscal year when assets reached $302 billion. Assets today are $344 billion.
  • Net Investment returns in the PERF were 11.2 percent due to strong financial markets. Our Public Equity program returned 19.6 percent for the year.
  • Overall investment expense costs decreased by $169.9 million.
  • The funding level for the PERF was 68.3 percent as of June 30, 2016. As a result of the discount rate change from 7.5 percent to 7 percent through the three-year phase-in, the PERF funded status is estimated to hold at 68 percent for June 30, 2017. This estimate assumes a 7 percent discount rate that will be in effect in FY 2019-20 for the state and FY 2020-21 for schools and public agencies.
  • The PERF paid $21.4 billion in annual pension benefit payments to nearly 670,000 retirees and beneficiaries — an increase of 3 percent from the previous fiscal year of nearly 650,000.

Webmaster's note: the funding level for the PERF, 68%, remains below the 80% level that generally is considered desirable for public pension funds.


As you may know, CalPERS automatically reimburses the basic Medicare Part B monthly premium (which will be $134.00 for 2018) for its retirees who are in Medicare.  What you may not know is that if you are subject to the Income-Related Monthly Medicare Adjustment Amount (the IRMAA) because your annual total adjusted income exceeds certain limits, you may be eligible to have part or all of the IRMAA reimbursed by CalPERS as well.

The amount of additional reimbursement will depend on how much excess money is available from the monthly health insurance contribution made by the CSU for CSU retirees.  This will vary depending on how many of your dependents, if any, are enrolled in CalPERS basic or supplemental health plans.

If you think you may be eligible for reimbursement for all or part of your IRMAA, you have to notify CalPERS in writing.  Include in your letter to CalPERS a copy of your annual letter from the Social Security Administration describing your benefits for the coming calendar year.  This will include the amount of your IRMAA. (The letter for 2018 was sent to Social Security recipients in late November 2017.)

Mail your request to

CalPERS Member Account Management Division
Attention: Medicare Administration
P.O. Box 942715
Sacramento, CA 94229-2715

Within a few weeks you should receive a response from CalPERS, which indicates the amount of additional Part B reimbursement you will receive for 2018.  Note that it can take from 30 to 90 days before the additional reimbursement begins to appear in your retirement check or deposit.  The reimbursement will cover the entire year, so you may also see a lump sum payment for the prior months.






November 2017

One of the problems of retirement is that it gives you more time to read about the problems of retirement. ~Author unknown.


One of the highlights of the October CSU-ERFA State Council Meeting in Long Beach was the keynote speech by Reporter editor Ted Anagnoson entitled "Understanding the Trump Presidency."

The slides from Ted's talk are now available (in pdf format) on our website. You can download them here.


CalPERS is warning of a new telephone scam targeting its retirees. The Sacramento Bee reported on Nov. 2, 2017 that there have been reports of CalPERS annuitants receiving telephone calls telling them that they owe money to the pension fund and have to remit the money owed via a prepaid credit card in order to continue receiving their pensions.

CalPERS advises that it never contacts annuitants via telephone calls to request payments, and never requests payment by prepaid or reloadable credit cards. If you receive such a call, hang up immediately.





October 2017

One of the problems of retirement is that it gives you more time to read about the problems of retirement. ~Author unknown.


The CSU-ERFA State Council voted at its October 21st 2017 meeting in Long Beach to send to the members a proposed constitutional amendment that would expand membership eligibility. If the amendment is approved, all CSU retirees who are receiving a CalPERS retirement annuity would be eligible to join CSU-ERFA.

Under Article III, Section 2 of our constitution, currently

..... All retired California State University faculty, professional librarians, and academic administrators who are CalPERS annuitants and such others as have been accorded faculty status on individual campuses, or who are members of a campus organization affiliated with CSU-ERFA and who
have official recognition as being retired, are eligible for membership in this Association. ......

The effect of the change would be to make our eligibility criteria uniform across all CSU campuses. Currently CSU staff members who belong to a campus affiliate are eligible to join. However, staff membership eligibility in affiliated campus organizations varies from campus to campus.

As required by our constitution a secret ballot will be mailed to the membership. A majority of those voting is required for the amendment to pass.


There is still time to apply for a CSU-ERFA grant award. Note that the deadline for submissions for this cycle is October 31, 2017. Proposal guidelines and submission forms are available here.

Please note that only CSU-ERFA Members are eligible to receive awards. However, a membership form may be submitted with your proposal.




September 2017

One of the problems of retirement is that it gives you more time to read about the problems of retirement. ~Author unknown.


The updated 2017 edition of the CSU-ERFA Survivor's Guide is now available for purchase by the public at a cost of $10. Current members of CSU-ERFA can purchase the updated 2017 Guide at the discounted price of $5. New members receive their first copy of the Survivor's Guide at no charge.

The Survivor's Guide is an invaluable tool for every retiree who wants to ease the burden on his or her survivors and executor at the time the retiree becomes disabled or dies. The Guide helps the retiree organize all the important information in one place, and helps to ensure that the retiree's wishes will be followed.

An order form for the Guide can be downloaded at http://csuerfa.org/pdf/Survivors-guide-2017-order-form.pdf


Our CSU-ERFA Pre- and Post Retirement Concerns Committee reports that some CSU-ERFA members have experienced exorbitant roll-over fees when transferring outside investments into the CSU TSA Fidelity program. If you are considering moving outside investments into the CSU Tax-Sheltered Annuity program, be sure that you understand the fees that you are going to be charged to move your money. If necessary, consult a professional, licensed investment advisor before transferring your money.




August 2017

One of the problems of retirement is that it gives you more time to read about the problems of retirement. ~Author unknown.


CalPERS Health Plan Open Enrollment starts September 11, 2017 and runs through October 6, 2017. To access your current health plan information, and to see your options for next year visit your My|CalPERS account (my.calpers.ca.gov).

If you need assistance with your My|CalPERS account, or you need set one up call 1-888-225-7377.


CalPERS Board Election Ballots will be mailed starting September 1, 2017. The deadline to vote is October 2, 2017.

The CSU-ERFA Executive Committee recommends Michael Flaherman for Seat A, and has made no recommendation for Seat B. Details of the recommendations can be found on page 3 of the September 2017 issue of the Reporter.

In addition to traditional voting by mail, you also can vote online at www.calpersboardelections.com or by telephone by calling (800) 270-7146. In either case you will need your Personal Identification Number (PIN), which can be found on the ballot card mailed to you in the ballot package.







July 2017

Q. How many retirees does it take to change a light bulb?

A. Only one, but it might take him or her two or three days. ~Author unknown.

CalPERS reported a preliminary rate of return of 11.2% on its investment portfolio for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2017. This increased CalPERS funded ratio from 65% to 68%, which is still below the 70% funded ratio that most analysts consider the minimum safe level for public pension funds, and well below the 80% funded ratio that analysts require to rate a pension fund as strong.

A discussion of the details of last year's investment performance by Ted Eliopoulos, CalPERS Chief Investment Officer, can be found here.


The revised, proposed CalPERS health plan rates for 2018 have been announced. A table showing these rates can be downloaded here. The table covers rates for both basic plans and Medicare plans, and it includes rates for the retiree plus dependents if the retiree has enrolled one or more dependents in his or her health plan.

Retirees and enrolled dependents who are age 65 or older are required to be enrolled in Medicare. The Medicare plans listed in the table are either Supplement to Medicare plans (PPOs) or Medicare Advantage Plans (HMOs).

Note that the rates in the table do not include the monthly CSU contribution to retiree health care. This year that contribution was $707.00 per month for a single enrollee, $1,349.00 per month for the retiree plus one dependent, and $1,727,00 per month for the retiree plus two or more dependents. The CSU contributions for 2018 are expected to be approximately the same, so retirees should have no out-of-pocket expense for the plans listed in most cases.

CalPERS also reimburses the basic Medicare Part B premium for retirees enrolled in traditional Medicare. Some retirees in traditional Medicare may be subject to an additional income-related adjustment for Medicare Parts B and D. In that case the retiree can apply to have up to the difference between the CSU contribution and the actual premium cost for the Medicare Supplement Plan reimbursed to cover the income-related Medicare Part B adjustment.





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